South of the Border~Part 3

29 Apr

A Slice of Life

 Bill Lites

Bill Stars Plane


Tuesday morning after breakfast, we drove to the building site, where our visiting group was split up into two teams, with two Kennedy Team Leaders in each team to keep us on the right track, and we got started. Each team was assigned to build a house on their pre-finished slab, and the race was on to see who could finish first.



It was amazing how organized the Team Leaders were, as they assigned the various tasks to our team members. There were materials coordinators, wood cutters (my main job), wood shapers, painters and builders all working smoothly together at one time. A lot of the wood materials had been ordered cut to length, so the assembly process was fast and fairly easy.


The 2”x 4”walls were assembled on the slab, and then each was raised and braced in place, while being attached to the slab floor with pre-installed j-bolts, nuts and washers.

Next the joists were built (I had a hard time keeping up with all the angle cuts for our house on the chop saw) and the corrugated galvanized tin roofing was nailed in place. Once that was done, a plywood loft was built over the rear half of the house, where smaller family members could sleep. As you can see in the photo below, the tail-end of the joists were pre-painted (on the ground by the painters) to save time and reduce the use of troublesome ladders after assembly. As I mentioned earlier, this was also done with the soffit and fascia boards as well as the window and door trim.



Then heavy insulation was fastened in place between the joists, under the tin roof, and covered with plywood to help keep the loft area from getting so hot. A sturdy and child-safe ladder was built to give access to the loft area.



While the roof and loft work was going on topside, another team was drilling holes and running electrical wiring in the wall studs. Once that was done, the exterior plywood sheeting was nailed to the walls and gables, the window and door holes were cut, and the windows were installed.



While all the time these activities were going on, the shaper team was busy at work cutting scalloped trim boards, and the painting team was busy painting window and door trim boards and the completed (ventilated) soffit and scalloped trim boards. The small (3’x 3’square) shower enclosure was plumbed (cold water only) to provide the much-needed hygiene that most of the colonia (unregulated settlement) dwellers did not have access to. I understand that a latrine system was used by the colonia families, but I don’t remember seeing it or being told about it at the time. The only toilet I ever saw or used was located next to the John 3:16 Church, and it was very small. A kitchen area was not designated in these houses, as the colonia families were accustomed to doing most of their cooking outside their “homes” and would most likely continue to do their cooking outdoors when the weather permitted doing so.




—–To Be Continued—–


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